Doctor, there’s a human at the end of those teeth!

I recently gave a lecture called “Analogue Meets Digital,” in which I act out a comprehensive new patient exam. We take the patient through a complete digital journey, showing the audience how to use many tools and techniques, including Weave, Prexion-CBCT, Cari Vu, Digital x-rays, a full-mouth scan and more. The lecture is always a big hit.

When I review the new technologies with actual patients, they’re always incredibly impressed and we have a very high acceptance rate of our treatment plan — our goal is 90%, and we typically reach that.

But after that recent lecture, I started to wonder: What’s the real reason for our high rate of treatment plan acceptance? Is it the technology or is it something else?

 My parents owned a wonderful Italian restaurant for most of my life. Customers would come in time after time, some year after year, for the great food and incredible hospitality. My father always told me “there are two things that separate us from the others: quality and relationships.” My parents served great pasta, but even more important was how they treated every person who stepped through the restaurant’s front door.

“There are two things that separate us from the others: quality and relationships”

The same is true for our dental practices. Patients accept our treatment plans because they have a relationship with us and we’ve developed trust — the technology is a bonus. This saying sums it up: “Patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Where does the relationship begin? That very first phone call, which also happens to be where most offices lose the business. That first impression makes a huge impact. How does your team welcome new patients? Is it cold and clinical or friendly and empathetic? Does every new call get a “wow” first impression?


Your office offers an experience, not just an implant or crown. You can have the most advanced technology around and flawless execution, but if you can’t build trust and form relationships with your patients, you won’t ever have the opportunity to show off those skills.

 I encourage you to step back and stop thinking like a dentist. Take a look at the patient journey from the moment he or she decides to call a new dentist through the actual procedure. It’s a very human, often vulnerable experience. How are you responding?

As dentists, when we meet new people at social events it’s impossible not to immediately look at their teeth and start thinking about a treatment plan. My advice — in social situations and in your office – remember there’s a human at the end of those teeth.


About Dr. Arthur (Tony) Tomaro

He graduated from The University of Michigan, School of Dentistry, where he also completed his Master of Science, and Bachelor of Science. He is also a graduate of the F. A.C.E. institute and a leader in complex gnathology and TMJ. Dr. Tomaro is previous Director of Clinics at Las Vegas Institute for Advance Dental Studies. Prior to his relocation to Las Vegas, Nevada, Dr. Tomaro enjoyed 26 years of private practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He maintains a private practice limited to Anterior Esthetic, Complex Occlusion, and Full Mouth Reconstruction. Dr. Tomarois recognized as a leader in cosmetic and restorative dentistry. His knowledge of occlusion and esthetics has made him popular for other dentist to seek him for their own personal care. As a member of Catapult Education, Dr. Tomaroteaches hands on courses, as well as peer lectures to dentists nationally and internationally. His teaching focuses on techniques related to General Dentistry (Tooth Colored Fillings & Crowns), Full Mouth Reconstruction, Diagnosis, Business of Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry, The Art of Smile Design, and Occlusal Procedures that are used in daily patient care. Dr. Tony Tomaro is a published author and a consultant for dental laboratories and manufacturers, and a current contributing author to national dental publications and dental laboratory publications on several topics.  He is affiliated with the following prestigious organizations: ADA - American Dental Association, MDA - Michigan Dental Association, NDA - Nevada Dental Association.